Braves thrilled with Bourn as leadoff man

Braves thrilled with Bourn as leadoff man

ATLANTA -- As this season approached, Braves players expressed excitement about the opportunity to spend a whole year with Michael Bourn at the top of their lineup. The offensive surge Bourn has produced over the past couple of weeks has validated this excitement.

"He's been solid," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, before jokingly adding, "now if we could only get him to drive in some runs or to hit some home runs. Am I asking too much?"

After struggling through the season's first week, Bourn has been all that the Braves could expect. The veteran center fielder finished a 4-2 loss to the Phillies on Tuesday batting .330, with a .391 on-base percentage.

Bourn has batted .394 (30-for-76) with a .464 on-base percentage in 18 games since April 13. In addition, he has provided the speed element that has allowed him to lead the National League in stolen bases each of the past three seasons.

Bourn has been successful on seven of his first 10 stolen-base attempts. But he believes he has been victimized by three bad calls, with the latest coming in the first inning Monday against the Pirates, by veteran umpire Kerwin Danley. Replays showed Bourn clearly reached the second-base bag before the tag was applied.

"I know when I'm safe and when I'm not," Bourn said. "If I'm out, I'm not going to argue about it. I'll take it. I'm out. It's as simple as that. But three of the calls this year, I've been safe."

Acquired from the Astros at last year's Trade Deadline, Bourn has needed just three months to match Matt Diaz for the most stolen bases (29) by a Braves player since Rafael Furcal departed after the 2005 season. Jason Heyward, who debuted at the start of the 2010 season, ranks second with 28 stolen bases.